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There is a phenomenon known as the “fourth grade slump”, where children who had done well through the first three grades suddenly, surprisingly, begin to stumble. The cause is being attributed to the transition in fourth grade from “bottom up” instruction (basic word recognition and decoding) to “top down” skills (general fluency and swift comprehension of material).
The National Institute of Health (NIH) has awarded a grant of $9 million to the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland to establish a Learning Disabilities Research Center. The goal is to illuminate the neurobiological and behavioral underpinnings of learning disabilities in third- to eighth-grade children.
Projects to be undertaken will:
- examine children’s word and text fluency and the ways they correlate with reading comprehension;
- examine the effectiveness of response to intervention and use MRI scans to determine if there are neurocognitive indicators that predict how children will respond;
- determine how aspects of ADHD (processing speed, working memory) influence reading comprehension;
- determine the prevalence of different subtypes of reading disabilities.
(source: press release from the Kennedy Krieger Institute; www.kennedykrieger.org)
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